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Gov. J.B. Pritzker announced the child’s death during a press conference Saturday. An investigation is being conducted to determine the exact cause of death and determine whether the infant had any underlying health conditions, the governor said.
“I know how difficult this news can be, especially about this very young child,” the governor said at his daily news conference Saturday, according to the Chicago Tribune. “Upon hearing it, I admit that I was immediately shaken. It’s appropriate for any of us to grieve today."
He continued: "It’s especially sorrowful for the family of this very small child for the years stolen from this infant. We should grieve. We should grieve for a sense of normalcy we left behind just a few short weeks ago."
The child, as well as a state employee, were among the 13 new deaths in Illinois announced at the press conference Saturday. The infant’s name and exact age were not released, though the governor said the child was less than 1 year old.
“If you haven’t been paying attention, maybe this is your wake-up call,” Illinois Department of Public Health Director Dr. Ngozi Ezike said at the same press conference, urging people to do all they can to prevent the spread of the virus.
Illinois in the eighth-most coronavirus infected state in the country, reporting at least 3,498 confirmed cases by Sunday morning, according to Johns Hopkins University. A total of at least 47 people have died after contracting COVID-19.
“The vast, vast majority of people in Illinois are doing precisely what we asked them to do,” Pritzker said. “But it’s the others — the people who aren’t obeying the stay-at-home rule — who are putting everyone in danger. It doesn’t take that many people, frankly, to break the rules and cause danger to others.”
The risk of death and severe illness from COVID-19 is greater for older adults and people with other health problems. In most cases, the virus causes mild or moderate symptoms, which can include fever and cough but also milder cases of pneumonia, sometimes requiring hospitalization.
Children have made up a small fraction of coronavirus cases worldwide. A letter published in the New England Journal of Medicine by Chinese researchers earlier this month reported the death of a 10-month-old with COVID-19. The infant had a bowel blockage and organ failure and died four weeks after being hospitalized.
Separate research published in the journal Pediatrics traced 2,100 infected children in China and noted one death, a 14-year old. The study found less than 6 percent of children were seriously ill, according to the Associated Press.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.